John has brought his construction and leadership knowledge to Project Mercy for the past four years. He has taught countless excited participants from both sides of the border how to get the best out of a day’s build. Never one to back down from a challenge, in the past two weeks he and a couple of friends went to Middletown, northern California, to work in a program rebuilding homes that were destroyed in the Valley Fire of 2015.

The guys took a COVID-19 test ahead of time before driving up together. The staff at the volunteer center took everyone’s safety seriously, wearing masks, taking temperatures daily, and frequently cleaning all common surfaces. John says: “We felt very safe.”

The couple whom they helped, Bernie and Darci, had been living in a small trailer for 5 years and now are on the cusp of moving into their new home and ending their nightmare from the fire that consumed their previous home. Darci said: “You will all remain in my heart forever.”

John tells us they have been to Middletown 3 times, including this trip, and Redding in Shasta county 2 times. Eventually, they will help build houses in Paradise, a town in Butte county that was almost totally destroyed in 2018. They work through an organization called Hope City, which is a part of the Hope Crisis Response Network. (HCRN). In our next blog we will let you know more about IRT, the San Diego organization through which HCRN works and with whom John and his friends have volunteered around the world. IRT also works with Project Mercy. We are so grateful to have such good friends and colleagues working with us.

Valley fire Statistics: 76,000 acres, 1,300 homes, 27 multi-family buildings, 66 businesses and 581 outbuildings. The fire, which stretched from Cobb Mountain to Hidden Valley Lake, killed five people.